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Abortion in Uruguay

New York Times | 10-26-2012

While the Uruguay legislation decriminalizing some abortions is welcome, it is not a panacea for the women of that country. The new law, with its requirement that a woman appear before a hospital panel to justify her decision, mimics the practice in effect in New York before 1970.

Hospitals then had abortion review panels, where patients and doctors (often psychiatrists) presented evidence that continuation of the pregnancy was a real threat to the woman’s physical or mental health — that the woman would commit suicide.

In an estimated 40 percent or more of cases, the hospital also required the woman’s sterilization as a condition of permitting an abortion. Women in New York continued to go to unsafe practitioners rather than submit to such indignities.

Given the senseless deaths from unsafe abortions throughout Latin America, women in Uruguay and throughout the region deserve better.

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